BFO-based ontology enhancement to promote interoperability in BIM

Applied ontology 16 (4):1–27 (2021)
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Building Information Modelling (BIM) is a process for managing construction project information in such a way as to provide a basis for enhanced decision-making and for collaboration in a construction supply chain. One impediment to the uptake of BIM is the limited interoperability of different BIM systems. To overcome this problem, a set of Industry Foundation Classes (IFC) has been proposed as a standard for the construction industry. Building on IFC, the ifcOWL ontology was developed in order to facilitate representation of building data in a consistent fashion across the Web by using the Web Ontology Language (OWL). This study presents a critical analysis of the ifcOWL ontology and of the associated interoperability issues. It shows how these issues can be resolved by using Basic Formal Ontology (ISO/IEC 21838-2) as top-level architecture. A set of competency questions is used as the basis for comparison of the original ifcOWL with the enhanced ontology, and the latter is used to align with a second ontology – the ontology for building intelligent environments (DOGONT) – in order to demonstrate the added value derived from BFO by showing how querying the enhanced ifcOWL yields useful additional information.

Author's Profile

Barry Smith
State University of New York, Buffalo


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